Obviously, as the managing editor at SEJ I read a lot of articles. I read tons of blogs, online news sources and I read posts people send to SEJ. I also have been around enough to see all the strategies people use to try and write “headlines” and posts that people will read. Some stuff is getting really old, but some stuff still works.
Try to be different and remember that too much of anything is never a good thing. Success with all things blogging depends on your information and your audience. Here are some tips that I am personally recommending:
Don’t Regurgitate Content
Regurgitated content is painfully obvious to those that have been around for a while. Taking 5 ideas from 5 different articles and mimicking them to create your own article is really crappy, especially when you can’t expand on these ideas in anyway. It is copied info and fluff and nothing bugs a reader more than that. The SEO/Web marketing industry is filled with extremely intelligent people that read all the time. They can see fluff content a mile away and I personally won’t go back to a site that has wasted my time.
Updating your site with good content is important, but sometimes less is more. Post when you have something valuable, helpful and unique to offer and you will increase your fan number. If you give nothing you get nothing.
Give the Reader a Gift
Think of every post or article as an opportunity to give a small gift. The gift could be:
- Link(s) to great resources
- Links to free things – whitepapers, free trials, free images…whatever will appeal to your audience
- A personal tip or experience you have learned from
- A guide on how to accomplish something
- Usable steps the reader can use immediately
- A review that can help people make a good decision or avoid a bad one
If people are going to take the time to click to your article you owe them something valuable and useful. An idea or even a question that makes the reader think is also valuable. If you give your readers nothing at all to take with them why should they come back?
Write for Readers at Every Level
A successful website has readers at every level of the spectrum, from beginners to advanced. You have to appeal to a wide audience to be successful, so you need to cover the spectrum. Even someone advanced in your field can appreciate a 101 type article if it is done well and becomes a tool for them. There are times I have sent clients 101 articles that I think will help them understand our strategies and I keep the links to use as a tool. Keep in mind that beginners in a field are typically hungry for more knowledge. If you give them great, usable information they will keep coming back and become a loyal fan.
If you write too much 101 material you may lose your medium-advanced readers and vise versa. So, I recommend you have clear categories for levels that readers can use to find what they are looking for. You can also use different icons so new readers coming in will see you have information for all levels. You want your readers to quickly see and find what they are looking for. No one has time to work hard and dig around a site hoping to find something good. Make it easier for your readers, to at first glance, see that there is information that is relevant to them specifically.
One more thing I want to mention. There are many assistants out there researching for their bosses on which marketing steps to take and what strategies are available. I would say at least half of them don’t read deeply; they are just collecting data for the boss. Now the “boss” or supervisor is a totally different audience and he/she will be digging deep and trying to understand. If you have beginners articles make sure you link to your more advanced articles. I love articles that have an ending paragraph with something like, “If you want to learn more about this topic….”. Start with easy and move them up to more advanced information. Earn a fan and also lower your bounce rate.
Don’t Talk About You Too Much
There is a population of new writers that love the interaction that comes with blogging and they like what they see as popularity if a post does well. Sometimes an inflated sense of self occurs and articles start becoming more about the writer than the subject of the article. Trust me when I say this is kind of irritating. If you want to talk about you or your personal experiences please make a category for that and only do it there. I don’t want to read about your recent visit to a restaurant for 4 paragraphs and then read how it relates to SEO in 4 sentences. We are all lovely people and cool in our own way. We all want to share information about ourselves and that is fine, but if you want to share do it right. Don’t irritate your readers and fans. They come searching for info, not a new relationship.
Do Your Research
When I first began learning about SEO I read and read about a particular thing. Everyone was blogging about it so I decided to discuss this item in a blog post. Well, someone with a heck of a lot more knowledge and experience contacted me and pointed out that I was writing about something that was false. To this day it is humiliating, but it was a good lesson learned. I don’t write about anything or give my opinion on it until I have done my research first.
There is nothing wrong with not understanding something. The truly smart people in this world are anxious to keep learning and they will admit that they don’t know all. I have found that the least smart are those that claim to know everything. It is OK to say that you are still learning and it great to discuss what you have learned from failures. Failures are really just lessons learned.
If you make sure you are keeping up with your industry and write posts that have valuable and true data for your readers you should see some success.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself
I am sure you have heard “be yourself” and “show your personality” before. I am adding to this recommendation by saying don’t be afraid to show who you really are (to a point). Now I am going to talk about myself (which I told you not to do). I have no problem being a dork and letting people see it. Anyone that sees me on Twitter or in posts knows I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I have used this love to really help people remember who I am and they often enjoy the dork love of Star Wars that I have. It might not be cool to love Star Wars to some people, but it is who I am and because I embrace this nerdiness and I am proud of it people can relate. They appreciate that I let them see the real me and not some pretend persona I am trying to create to become “popular” on the Web.
Side note – Being yourself does not include attacking and degrading people. It doesn’t include insulting and belittling. Being clear on your thoughts and not budging is fine, but when you attack people you kill your own reputation.
Lastly, A Request
PLEASE, please, please give us new and unique articles (not copied information you consider unique). I need something new and different to avoid being bored. Be real and human and give us something we haven’t read 30 times before.
If you have any tips please add them in our comments section :-)